One year ago Sebastian and I moved country, 1 yr is also the same length of time I have not been leading or holding the space in a Yoga class, my priority centred in making sure both of us adapted to a new space while keeping all things moving forward, as a result, my yoga practice stopped, and my body-mind connection slowly got lost too. The problem is that when there is no connection between mind and body, the subtle signals the body gives of dis-ease can be easily ignored or normalized, I became ill as a result. Having been the yogini I was, I never thought I could forget Yoga to the level I did (lesson #1 – never assume), I didn’t even realize I was not feeling my body until recently, when a series of synchronicities led my reluctant chubby self to take a 1 to 1 class with a very body able Yogini. There I was, feeling the stagnant energy in my body and unable to control my breath as I followed the yoga sequence, at this point I realized it was time to surrender and return to being a beginner opening my mind to receiving guidance, allowing someone else to hold the space for me because I could no longer do hold the space for myself, so I let go, opening space allowing life to surprise me.
Life is cyclic, sometimes you are at the front guiding a class, other times life puts you right at the back of the class having to re-learn a few things. I don’t mean that teachers are never students, because we all are, what I mean is the true surrendering that comes with being a beginner, allowing yourself to be led as If you know NOTHING and finding joy in it. The busy life of a working full time single mum took me out of my mat physically and in all levels of my life, I gained weight, forgot how to breathe consciously, my body became tight and stagnant, weak and prone to illness (caught pneumonia and my body had signs of chronic inflammation), so, at this point, I knew I had to do something real.
So how did I journey back?
Not alone (lesson #2). There are times in your life that you need guidance because you alone can’t find the way back, and it works as long as your surrender to it. All I could do was to take a back seat and enjoy the return to my Yogic Life in the hands of a 1 to 1 teacher called Liss Puerto, who immediately made my mind (and every cell of my body) remember the beauty of Yoga, giving me the added gift of challenging pre-conceived ideas of what I thought was Yoga (lesson #3).
Liss’ practice is very strong, her understanding of Yoga is holistic with a touch of magic, she teaches the modern Power Yoga branch which gets you sweating 5 minutes into the class, also, Liss is a Yogini who can literally stand on her chin (yes, on her chin), she makes hand stands and jumps through look easy/effortless and enters into poses with grace, combining the elements of air, fire, water and earth to her movement, she looks strong, light and very fluid. The thing is, I know Liss’s secret to this beautiful practice is not her flexibility alone, but it is her discipline and her willingness to practice 100 times, to fall and get up, “it is of humans to fall, but of Yogis to get up” – she says as my stagnant / tamasic body barely lifts from the floor. And this is where I had one of my biggest “aha” moment. Liss is an powerful Yogini (with an Instagram account) who transcended the practice beyond physical poses, and how refreshing is to learn from her.
The Yoga world is polarizing, the feeling that western societies have turned Yoga into a competitive sport is difficult to ignore, Instagram yogis give the perception that Yoga is reserved for a few privileged flexible bodies, this aesthetic trend is growing and the judgement at all levels of the yoga world grows with it; and this is where I got taught a lesson, as I fought for years to establish my teaching to prove that Yoga is for everyone, but somehow I managed to skew this concept that Yoga is for all to everyone being the less able bodies disregarding the more aesthetic ones. I have done free yoga classes with homeless teenagers, women focused charities, I have felt the beauty of guiding a disabled person in the Yoga world, or a grieving one, I have witnessed people who didn’t think yoga was for them falling totally with the practice, but I have also judged the body able yogis, segregating them un-consciously to a less than worthy place, and in this process I have limited Yoga as a practice and have made it a bad-service (big Lesson!), so when I met Liss and her Instagram account, my first reaction was to feel a little anxious, but that was to change very soon.
Yoga is for everyone, including those who apply strong discipline to their practice achieving what seems to be impossible, yes, some have it easier than others, but that does not make them nor their practice less worthy. Life is so diverse, and every yogi is different, some people find in child pose the soothing feeling one needs to keep going in life, some find joy in life with exhilarating handstands, and some don’t find that peace on any pose! that is the diversity of life and what Yoga offers to each of us.
So, there was a silver lining in my story, I had to forget yoga to come back to it with a different view and perspective.
So, in the hands of a well-respected and inspiring Instagram Yoga teacher, I am allowing my body, mind & spirit to re-discover Yoga, expanding my thinking, my awareness, removing barriers and judgements I created for myself and for the practice. Returning to my mat was the best thing I could do.
Yoga teacher & Senior Scientist working full time with a major Multinational.